PRIME MINISTER – UKRAINE AND DEFENCE BUDGET – 26 March 2014

Mr Nigel Dodds: May I welcome the Prime Minister’s statement? These developments in Ukraine and Crimea certainly underline and emphasise the relevance of NATO in the modern era. I support what has been said about defence capacity. Will he undertake at the NATO summit later this year to raise with our NATO partners and Governments the need for everyone to step up to the plate in terms of their contributions towards defence capacity so that we can ensure that a proper and measured response is available if needed?

The Prime Minister: I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. This is always a difficult subject in NATO because people do not want to give up national capabilities and invest in capabilities that enhance NATO as a whole. There are some steps we need to take. We should continue to oppose the establishment of EU headquarters as unnecessary duplication. We should be working very closely with major allies that have similar capabilities, like the French, which is what the Lancaster House agreement is all about. We should encourage other countries to do what Britain is doing in matching our at-least-2% contribution in terms of GDP and defence spending. If we did all those things, plus some more creative working together, we could enhance our capacities.

Dr Julian Lewis: May I take it from what the Prime Minister has just said that there is then no question of the British defence budget dropping below 2% of GDP?

The Prime Minister: We currently meet the 2% threshold. These things are calculated by different countries in different ways, but I am confident that we will go on meeting our obligations to NATO.